Challenges Faced by the Indian Judiciary: Unraveling the Complexity

Title: Challenges Faced by the Indian Judiciary: Unraveling the Complexity

Author: Md.Sameer Ul Ain, a student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University        .                                                                                                                               (DSNLU)


  1. Introduction
  2. Judicial intricacies and statutory complexities 
  3. Archaic legal procedures for contemporary legal concerns 
  4. Delay in justice due to pendency of cases 
  5. The looming challenge of judicial vacancies and appointment grid lock in India 
  6. Boycotts by advocates 
  7. Case study – Harish Uppal vs union of India 
  8. Conclusion 


The Indian Judiciary, regarded one of the world’s most powerful, functions within the framework established by the Constitution of India. However, the system faces obstacles. In the arena of legal structures, the Indian judiciary has long dealt with the issue of judicial delays, a challenge that has often been blamed to a shortage of judges. with one judge for every 73,000 people in India, seven times more than in the USA. The current rate of case disposal raises concerns, as civil matters may never be properly addressed, while criminal cases could take over 30 years. The efficacy of the court in defending citizens’ rights remains a vital concern, demanding a closer study of its ability to execute its constitutional tasks.

However, a closer investigation reveals a remarkable discrepancy between India and the United States, where Indian judges manage 217 new cases annually compared to their American counterparts overseeing over 550 cases each year. This raises a critical question which is – Is the demand for extra judges the primary cause to India’s judicial inefficiency, or are there any other deeper underlying issues?

Historically, the focus has been on quantitative indicators like as judges per million citizens or judges required to tackle pending cases, forgetting the critical aspect of judicial efficiency. Shifting the perspective to judges-per-case-filed gives a different narrative, suggesting that reasons beyond a mere scarcity of judges may be at play. 

As the world grapples with the repercussions of the Covid-19 outbreak, changes in court functioning present an chance to study alternative remedies. The paper advocates diving into the possible impact of technological improvements on judicial processes, acknowledging the transformational potential that appeared during the pandemic could play a vital role in understanding the functioning of the courts.

In summary, this article aims to understand the tangled web of issues encountered by the Indian judiciary.

Judicial intricacies and statutory complexities

The Indian judiciary has tremendous difficulties that necessitate creative solutions as a result of the multiple legal intricacies and statutory complexities it must manage. A complex framework that frequently puts the judicial system to the test is formed by the huge and confusing web of legislation, laws, and regulations that make up India’s legal environment. 

The huge number and variety of regulations that govern numerous parts of Indian society offer one main challenge. Numerous legislation and their frequent updates might cause legal confusion by making it harder to comprehend the law. In order to attain impartial justice, judges must traverse this maze of laws, which needs an extensive understanding of the complexities of the statute.

Another degree of difficulty is provided by the overlapping jurisdictions of numerous tribunals and judicial levels. To prevent contradicting precedents, decision-making must be coordinated and harmonised. It is still absolutely important to create a rational legal framework that minimises conflicts and facilitates adjudication proceedings. A comprehensive plan that involves technology integration, legal reforms, and judicial capacity-building is necessary to overcome these challenges. A more powerful and responsive judicial system can be achieved by regular training courses for judges, a concentration on specialty courts, and a continuing examination of present statutes to remove redundant sections. Going forward, addressing these complexities and complexity would necessitate a dedicated effort in order to assure that the Indian judiciary continues to be a cornerstone of justice in the evolving legal environment.

Archaic Legal Procedures for contemporary legal concerns

In order to tackle modern legal concerns, the Indian judiciary has a major difficulty from the continuous usage of old legal systems. The legal system, which has its roots in conventions that have formed over many years, frequently struggles with obsolete practises that inhibit the rapid and effective settlement of contemporary issues. Justice delivery is severely hindered by outmoded practises, such as excessive paperwork, drawn-out legal hearings, and reliance on physical documentation. The inertia of ancient legal practises causes delays, generating a backlog of cases that jeopardises the integrity of the judicial system in an era dominated by technical innovations and digital solutions.

Furthermore, complex legal jargon and archaic language might confuse common people and deter them from pursuing legal action. The problem of access to justice is made worse by this separation between the people and the legal system, especially for those who are impoverished.The Indian judiciary needs major reforms to overcome this impediment, embracing technology to improve accessibility, simplify language, and speed operations. In the changing landscape of 21st-century India, modernising legal practises is vital to ensuring the judiciary’s relevance and efficacy in properly addressing current legal difficulties, building public trust, and preserving the values of justice.

Delay in justice due to pendency of cases 

Excessive case backlogs, a problem that has hampered the Indian judiciary for decades, present a severe threat to the institution. With over 44 million cases still pending, the enormous number of unsolved cases has produced long delays in the administration of justice, which usually leaves the public feeling unhappy, deprived of their rights and unfairly treated.
Numerous difficulties, such as a lack of judges, an obsolete court system, and confusing legal processes, are to blame for this backlog of cases. Specifically, the shortage of judges has created a serious backlog obstructing the fast adjudication of cases. The lack of courtrooms, manpower, and technology is another element that affects the proper running of the legal system.

Delays in justice have far-reaching and adverse effects on society. Prolonged trials can cost plaintiffs a lot of money, cause them considerable suffering, or even loss them their livelihood. Enterprises suffer uncertainty and prolonged dispute settlement, hindering their expansion and investment potential. Furthermore, the public’s diminishing faith in the judicial system threatens democracy’s fundamentals and the rule of law. The problem of case pendency demands for a diversified strategy.

  • A vital first step is to expand the number of judges, and attempts are being made to increase judicial recruitment and enhance the effectiveness of court proceedings. 
  • Technology-based solutions, like case management systems and e-courts, can also accelerate procedures and cut down on delays.
  •  Additionally, the pressure on the courts might be decreased by expediting legal processes and fostering alternative conflict resolution techniques like arbitration and mediation. 
  • Campaigns for public awareness can enlighten the public about their legal rights and urge them to explore into non-traditional techniques of conflict resolution.

The Looming Challenge of Judicial Vacancies and Appointment Gridlock in India

The Indian judiciary, which is regularly praised for preserving the Constitution and defending fundamental rights, is faced by the rise of in court vacancies and the widespread existence of the appointment backlog. If this scenario is not handled, it could threaten the nation’s system of delivering justice. In India, there are currently several unfilled seats in various courts—a stunning amount that has been rising over time. Millions of cases are backlogged and the current judicial workforce is overworked as a result of the judge’s shortage, which has created prolonged delays in case resolution.

The judicial nomination method, which comprises numerous layers of examination has gotten more complex and time-consuming. This difficult method frequently causes delays in employing new personnel, which worsens the situation.

Delays in the administration of justice not only deprive people of their basic rights but also significantly damage the nation’s general social and economic advancement. They weaken public faith in the judicial system, block access to justice, and make it more difficult to settle issues peacefully. 

A broad strategy is needed to address this issue, including accelerating the filling of vacancies, strengthening the judiciary, and streamlining the appointment system. To address this important situation, the government, the judiciary, and the legal community must unite.

Boycott by advocates 

Boycotts by Advocates’  of the Indian judiciary have become a strong hurdle, a manifestation of the displeasure in the legal community. Advocates are vital to sustaining the values of justice, and their use of boycotts raises fundamental problems about how the legal system runs. This sort of protest is typically a statement of unhappiness with different sections of the legal system.

A well-known example of this form of boycott took place in 2019 when attorneys countrywide held protests against alleged police brutality during an encounter with advocates at the Tis Hazari Court in Delhi. The boycott raised attention to the weakening of the relationship between the legal community and law enforcement by temporarily paralysing court proceedings. 

The 2018 boycott by supporters in Karnataka against the incorrect consultation that led to the transfer of High Court judges is another significant case. Regular court operations were interrupted by the boycott, which also emphasised the need for enhanced communication between the judiciary and its stakeholders. These cases demonstrate the careful balancing needed to  maintain the judicial system harmonious. While supporters are entitled to vent their objections, lengthy boycotts have the potential to significantly undermine the administration of justice and reduce public confidence in the legal system.

Case law related to Boycott by the advocates-

Case Name:  Harish Uppal v. Union of India (2003)

Brief Facts: In the case of Harish Uppal v. Union of India, the petitioner Harish Uppal was a former army officer. During the 1971 Liberation War, he was stationed in Bangladesh. Due to accusations of embezzlement and other irregularities, he was court-martialled and subsequently imprisoned in 1972. He was given a two-year prison sentence and was discharged from the army. He attempted to have the case reviewed in court, but it was denied. He then filed another post-affirmation application, to which he received no response.

After 11 years, he finally received a response. The review time had expired up until that point. The records and all of the review applications were eventually revealed to have been missing due to a strike by a group of attorneys, which caused a delay. The petitioner filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking it to rule lawyer strikes as illegal.

Issues: The major issue in this case focused on the question of whether lawyers possess an absolute right to go on strike or boycott court hearings as a means of expressing their grievances. The bigger concern was whether such actions harm the justice delivery system and if there are any constraints on the ability of lawyers to protest.

Judgment: The Supreme Court, in its opinion, highlighted that lawyers do not have an absolute right to go on strike or boycott court hearings. While respecting the right to peaceful protest, the court argued that such actions beyond a par could disturb the normal working of the courts, thereby compromising the justice delivery system. The judgment tried to find a compromise between the genuine concerns of attorneys and the smooth operation of the judiciary.

Despite legal precedents forbidding such acts, the judgment recognized the durability of strikes and boycotts, raising issues about the efficiency of these judgments in limiting such challenges. The case underscored the persistent problem of establishing a balance between the concerns of advocates and the need for an efficient legal system,  for  which the supreme court of India directed the Bar Council of India to find a way to resolve the grievances of advocates. as a result on 29th september 2002, Bar Council established advocates grievances redressal commissions at different levels in India.


In conclusion, the difficulties faced by the Indian court are diverse and demand a comprehensive and dynamic approach for resolution. The dense web of judicial intricacy and statutory complexity places a considerable burden on the system, forcing imaginative solutions to navigate a maze of rules and regulations. The continuation of ancient legal procedures further limits the judiciary’s ability to resolve contemporary legal matters efficiently. Modernization through technological integration and legal reforms is necessary to expand accessibility, simplify language, and accelerate legal processes.

Boycotts by advocates, however a manifestation of displeasure within the legal profession, offer a delicate balance between voicing concerns and ensuring the smooth running of the judiciary. The landmark case of Harish Uppal v. Union of India underlines the necessity for a nuanced approach, acknowledging the right to protest while underlining the possible disruptions to the justice delivery system.In the midst of these problems, the Indian judiciary is at a crucial juncture, requiring bold reforms, technical improvements, and a concerted effort to assure its sustained efficacy as the cornerstone of justice in the shifting legal landscape of the country. Only by a concerted and persistent effort can the judiciary completely unravel the complexity and emerge as a light of justice for all citizens.

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